Tuesday 6 of December, 2022
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Shakti Art School: A Fountain Of Creative Discovery

We paid a visit to the visionary Shakti Art School in Maadi and soon discovered there was much more to it than we initially thought...

Staff Writer

Hidden in a cozy basement of a busy Maadi street, we found the hallowed halls of Shakti Art School. Despite “hallowed halls” being nothing more than an intended word game, we soon found out that Shakti, named after the Hindu deity for creativity, is indeed a hallowed place, a fountain of inspiration and possibly the most creative place in all of Cairo.

Greeted by the founders Moamen Mahrous and Basma Darwiche we got a tour of the art school that is so much more than a space with paint and canvases. The first room we entered was filled with easels and brushes, lined up to look at a model of a Van Gogh painting and a bottle standing on a stool. All the canvases were filled with a depiction of the different angles looking at the object-filled stool. However, it wasn’t the fantastic paintings that had us most impressed. Having arrived for the drawing and painting class an hour early, we found that most of the class had already arrived and was cooking together, hanging out and having fun in the kitchen already. Here, they clearly don’t just attend to whip out their brushes…

Shakti once was the artistic home of Saleh Abdel Sabour, who Darwiche and Mahrous refer to as the “Godfather of Shakti”, and passed away two years ago in the middle of teaching an art class. After his passing, the thought of losing the spot where creativity met people was unbearable to the Shakti family who then decided actions had to be taken to preserve the space in Maadi. To all attendees, Shakti had become much more than just an art school; it was a place to meet friends, be yourself and surround yourself with just the right energy to make art dwell inside of you. Last June, Shakti opened its door again, under new leadership, housing the spirit of the previous years.

“I want to change the concept of the arts in Egypt,” Mahrous tells us about the inspiration for Shakti. He explains that being an artist is not just another profession that pays the bills and Shakti is aiming to bring people together that consider art a way of living, be it on a canvas or in the way they live, cook or act. In order to bring out the best inspiration, Shakti focuses on the energy of the building, its students and instructors. Reiki, Feng Shui and other alternative practices are employed to maximize creative energies flowing. “In order to create the best way, you need to know yourself,” Darwiche tells us about the unconventional ways Shakti brings out the extraordinary in its students. The first step for that is filling yourself with positive energy, Darwiche tell us, and art will naturally happen. To the founders, talent is inferior to the willingness to learn and get inspired. Since art knows no rules, expression is key.

We are directed to the healing room. The class schedule of Shakti offers art classes at all levels and workshops for all kinds of interests. In the healing room, however, Darwiche teaches her students how to provide a productive environment for art within themselves by offering energy tools such as biogeometry, Quantum Touch advice and Reiki. All sessions are designed to increase the quality of life. This happens in regular consultations or one of Shakti's many workshops and events, ranging from meditation to NLP. She offers to do a Reiki session with us which we gladly accept. Exploring your inner self, letting positive energy flow and fill us up and getting inspired by the universe sounds pretty sweet. While Darwiche is preparing relaxing music tailored to our individual taste in relaxing music (I chose waves, night sounds and the flute), we are curious and unsure what to expect.

Since I was in trance, I can’t recall what parts of my body Darwiche held her hands over, however, after the session she rightly identified that my right knee needs attention. In fact, I had surgery on it just last year. Furthermore, Darwiche told us that there is negative energy coming out of my right ear, potentially due to my cell phone addiction. As a social media employee and journalist, there’s little that could cure this addiction. To protect myself from the bad energy, Darwiche shared a shakra with me that will protect me from harm. Overall, she managed for me to completely relax and turn off the frenzy that is working for CairoScene in my head. Not too bad for a first session…

Refreshed from our Reiki session, we join the other artists to draw. The room is filled with laughter. Some students are using an easel, others are sitting in beanbags, sketching. All of them are laughing, talking and exchanging. A student explains to us how Shakti has made him a proper artist. Having started at the earliest level, students move up to more advanced courses once they finish one. This way, skills are molded. Skill, however, is only one part of Shakti. One of the main skills to be learned at Shakti is how to get inspired and not whether to get inspired or not.

Shakti is a place where lives are transformed and every form of creativity finds an output. 'Introduction to Healing' is part of Shakti’s class schedule as much as 'Drawing & Painting' and 'Photography for Beginners'. Only if students are in sync with themselves, the founders believe, they can produce the most creative and artistic pieces of work. And Shakti offers a platform for everyone who wants to explore themselves spiritually and artistically. On top of that, Shakti introduces such people to each other, to help each other on the way to creative fulfillment.  Accompanied with inspirational people such as Mahrous and Darwiche and their family of artists, Shakti is sure to fight demons, negativity and inhibitions to make students the best they can be. New classes in Interior Design, Painting and Photography are starting soon. To give Shakti a try, you don’t have to sign up for the class today. There are workshop and events that enable the crowds of Cairo to give the positive energy of the Maadi venue a try, such as the upcoming “Introduction to Energy” workshop. But once you’ve had a taste of Shakti’s positive vibes you may not want to leave again…

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